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REACH, Lodi Fire Department wrap up training at Hutchins Street Square

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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:29 am, Thu Jul 14, 2011.

Seconds are precious when a life is at risk. To make sure everyone knows their role in the case of an emergency, Lodi firefighters and REACH Air Medical Services responders met at Hutchins Street Square on Tuesday to complete a series of training exercises that began earlier this month.

As pedestrians stopped briefly to observe the drills and snap pictures, firefighters talked REACH pilot Craig Korte into an easy landing on a lawn outside the entertainment center shortly after 11 a.m. Some witnesses plugged their ears as the helicopter’s rotors pierced the air around it and firefighters got into position.

While it gave area children a closer look at an emergency vehicle and a chance to talk with paramedics and firefighters, it was more about brushing up on skills that can save a life, one official said.

“We talk a lot about the ‘Golden Hour’ (the first 60 minutes after a trauma) and getting patients to the hospital as soon as possible,” said Ron Penix, battalion chief for the Lodi Fire Department. “So these exercises help all of us be aware of the procedures; it’s been a few years since we’ve trained with REACH.”

Besides talking the pilot through any potential hazards, such as trees power lines or transmission towers, firefighters were also reminded to always walk in front of the helicopter. With the tail rotor running at shoulder-height, one careless act could turn tragic for emergency workers, Penix said.

Several practice runs were conducted late Tuesday morning as some firefighters took flights with the crew as either passengers or the “victim.” The drills showed emergency workers how to quickly and safely load the helicopter and what complications they could possibly face, Penix said.

The exercise ended in the early afternoon.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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